Six Tips to Make SkyDrive your Cloud Backpack

Six Tips to Make SkyDrive your Cloud Backpack

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Earlier this year, we shared a few tips for students to work together with SkyDrive and Office on important projects—without compromising formatting or features. We heard great feedback and we look forward to sharing winners from our Collaboration Challenge soon!

Increasingly, we see students and teachers use services like SkyDrive to store everything in one place for easy sharing and access anywhere on campus. We call this your “cloud backpack”. In this post, Mark Grimaldi on the SkyDrive product marketing team will share a few tips to use SkyDrive this way.

- Anand Babu, Group Product Marketer, SkyDrive

If you’re a student, it’s the same routine every day. You gather everything you need—your notebook for class, binder full of handouts, readings or homework assignments, textbooks, laptop, smartphone and maybe even your tablet. And of course your power adapters. Then you stuff it all into your backpack—everything you think you might need throughout the day—because you may not be back home until it’s time for bed.

Surely, there must be a better way to have everything you might need without hauling it around with you everywhere you go.

Well, there is. With SkyDrive, you get a “cloud backpack” where you can store, create and access all of your documents, notes, photos or files from anywhere. Our new SkyDrive at School page shows how anyone can get started with a cloud backpack, but we wanted to share a few extra tips to help you go “all in.”

Tip #1: Upgrade your notebook and put it in the cloud

OneNote 2010 is a powerful note-taking application that’s great for school. With OneNote, you can organize your notes by your classes, instantly search through them, draw graphs or diagrams, and even record your lectures. If you’re not using OneNote yet, check out these tips on the OneNote Blog to get started.

To make OneNote even more useful for you, connect it to SkyDrive and try these suggestions:

Study from anywhere

By saving your notebook on SkyDrive, you can access it from any computer (even a Mac!) using the OneNote Web App. You can also study on-the-go since OneNote is also available on pretty much every mobile device.

To save your OneNote notebook to SkyDrive, just click File and then Share to save it on the web.

Screenshot of share on Web feature in OneNote

Copy things to OneNote

Whether for class or a research project, you can send printouts, screenshots or web clippings right to OneNote to stay organized.

Find a helpful website for your research paper? Just highlight what you want from Internet Explorer and right click Send to OneNote 2010 to insert it into your notebook. You can send a whole webpage, a paragraph or image. OneNote will even show where you copied the content from so you can easily cite and reference it later.

Screenshot of right-click menu with send to OneNote option

Have a PDF or some other file from your professor? You can Print directly to your OneNote notebook and save it next to your notes from the same lecture.

Screenshot of Send to OneNote option when printing

To take a snapshot of anything on your screen, press Windows + S on your keyboard. You can also drop and drag an entire file into OneNote from your desktop.

By default, OneNote always asks where you want new notes to go. You can set a default preference by clicking File, Options, and then Send to OneNote. If you select a notebook that’s synced to SkyDrive, you can rest assured that anything you send to OneNote will be available anywhere, automatically.

Screenshot of page to set default sent-to locations for OneNote

Share your notes with classmates without a photocopier

With all of your notes in the cloud, you can easily share them with your friends and classmates. From, just right click your notebook and select Share.

Screenshot of feature to send link a link to your SkyDrive via email

If you want, you can even give them access to your notebook so that they can add their own notes. Now everyone can work together in the same notebook, and studying for finals just got a little easier.

Tip #2: Never be without your important files

Odds are, you’re either working on an important project right now or will be shortly. Well, SkyDrive can help keep you more organized and make sure that you’re never without the files that you need.

Screenshot of Welcome to SkyDrive page

Screenshot of a SkyDrive folder and sub-folders

When you install SkyDrive for Windows or Mac, you get a SkyDrive folder on your computer. Everything you save or copy there is automatically synced to your SkyDrive. So move your spreadsheets, downloaded articles, and everything else you’ve gathered. No matter what happens to your computer, you can easily get to your stuff from any web browser.

Tip #3: Work with Office anywhere

SkyDrive does more than store your files. It also works with free Office Web Apps so you can view, edit and print from any web browser.

If you’re working on a Word document on your laptop at the library and your battery dies, you can easily pick up right where you left off just by logging into at the computer lab. If you get inspired on the bus ride back home, you can update your document using the Office Hub on your Windows Phone. You can rest assured that your formatting remains intact.

Any changes you make will be waiting to sync when you plug in your computer back at your dorm room.

What’s more, SkyDrive also keeps track of the various versions of your Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. So don’t worry about renaming your files V1, V2… V14a. Just work in the documents saved in your SkyDrive folder and SkyDrive will take care of the rest.

Screenshot showing current version of a file and the version history

Tip #4: Never leave something at home again

You’ve been there before. You’re at the computer lab ready to print out your paper and you forgot your USB drive. Or you’re away from your computer and you realize you didn’t email your TA your homework assignment. Or maybe you’ve just met someone at a company you’d like to work for and you want to send them your résumé, but you won’t be home for hours.

These aren’t a problem anymore. Even if you forget to put something in your SkyDrive folder—or never thought you’d need it there—you can still access it from any computer. SkyDrive for Windows lets you fetch any file on your personal computer (as long as it’s online) from

Once you find that paper to print, you can click Copy to SkyDrive and use Word Web App to view, print and share.

Screenshot of a SkyDrive account accessing a SkyDrive folder on a remote PC

Tip #5: Scan papers to SkyDrive using your phone

From handouts to class readings, old notes or recent assignments, you have so much paper to carry around and keep organized. Why not scan and upload everything to SkyDrive?

Use a smartphone app like Handyscan for Windows Phone (shown below) or Docscan for iPhone to create PDF versions of all of your handouts, homework, or even lecture notes from your friends. You can save the files directly to SkyDrive and they’ll be synced across your devices.

If you want to do more – like add comments or keep scans alongside class notes, you can import PDFs and other files into OneNote.

Screenshot of the Handyscan app scanning a newspaper

Tip #6: Access files on the go

USB drives are easily left behind. Emailing yourself documents makes it easy to lose track of the latest version or crowds your inbox.

With SkyDrive, you can access everything, all around campus, from any web browser. You can also use the SkyDrive app for Windows Phone, iPhone and iPad, or Android apps—no matter where you are.

Images of desktop, laptop, iPad and phone accessing a document on SkyDrive

Bringing a cloud backpack to every student and teacher

While we hope these tips are helpful, we know it will take some time before everyone upgrades to a “cloud backpack”. Here are a few ways you can help:

If you are a teacher, share class materials or class notes directly using SkyDrive. You can also provide feedback on assignments and papers through shared documents.

If you are a developer, use our APIs to integrate SkyDrive into applications that students use and love.

And if you are a student, what tips did we miss? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter how you’re using a cloud backpack today. We can help spread the word!

Mark Grimaldi,
Product Marketing Manager, SkyDrive

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  • I am a computer guy. I need to move files from one PC to another. I use Skydrive and Google Docs. Skydrive is way better in my experience. Only one thing, why now 7GB when it used to be 25GB? Also, I use ADrive, which offers 50GB free storage.

  • Used in conjunction with Microsoft Sync Toy. It is useful to make a folder for your flash drive within your Sky Drive and set up a sync to your flash drive this keeps all your USB data in sync and backed up. Laurence Fryer

  • Drew
    19 Posts


    If you have a second system shared with family, friends, girlfriends, etc. with your own account and you don't want to wait for it to synchronize (or to even have your files permanently residing) on their systems you can map a network drive (like M: ) and get access to whatever files you want.

    I have this on my wife's computer which I use so infrequently it would take a while to synchronize all my changes done in the past few months, before I could do anything on it.  Instead it is mapped so I click on the M: and get whatever it is I was looking for.  

    May not be the fastest, so I guess I would prefer if it were FASTER, and be even better if it could be accessed via Linux (for true cross-platform accessibility).


    It would be great if SkyDrive included a Sync-over-LAN feature that Dropbox has. For those that don't know what it is, Sync-over-LAN means when a file is changed on one system and the change is uploaded to Dropbox, the Dropbox alerts all other systems that there is a change and if the two systems are on the same LAN, Dropbox tells the second system to synchronize it from the first system.  This is way faster than over the Internet and has turned synchronizing a couple Gigs of files into a less-than-an-hour affair!

    (oh, and this is my first post.  "Hi!")

  • Please ..please and Please provide proper search for the skydrive..I can't search other folder, onenote files.. not sure why this was left out.. this is really hindering the productivity of working on skydrive. I  have a log lost of folders and to search which folder I want to view, i have to scroll up/down. .(waste of time).. and the worst is.. if I have nested folders..    Not sure..really why this was left out.. this is the most common feature and will be useful to everyone..  If you compare to your competitors..I can realy search everything stored on cloud.. then why can't microsoft provide this simple feature...

    I have moved to hotmail and skydrive completely but lack of this feature is really hindering my productivity...

    Hope to see more useful features .. soon

  • @ Pedrool

    If you want to sync files locally, then there is a much more elegant solution available that does not sync via the Internet but via your local network (router).

    The program is called "ViceVersa" and you can find it here :

    I hope this is of any use to you

  • Pedrool
    18 Posts

    I still use Mesh because my wife and I share files across local PCs. Please figure this out. Dropbox has. Until then I'm still on Mesh and Dropbox.

  • The OneNote Web App needs to have the ability to play recorded notes, and view Attched files like PDF's and Office Suite items. It just gives a generic placeholder where those files are at. Also the Apps need to have the ability to Record Audio Notes, would save alot of students the hassle of dragging their laptop to class if on their phone or tablet/iPad we could record notes, just like Evernote can NOW.

  • An official app for Android, that isn't utter crap, would be nice.

  • The mobile versions of SkyDrive (e.g. iOS) need ways to delete offensive shared content. The first time I opened the Shared pane of my app, I found it was full of pornographic images own by spam accounts who had targeted my Messenger account. It doesn't reflect well on SkyDrive if your filespace can be spammed in this fashion!

    There's no way of deleting or otherwise dealing with this unless you go to the web interface.

    From my reading of the tech forums, I'm not alone in experiencing this issue.